Siblings of children with autism: The Siblings Embedded Systems Framework

Hanna Kovshoff, Katie Cebula, Hsiao-wei Tsai, Richard Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review
A range of interacting factors/mechanisms at the individual, family, and wider systems levels influences siblings living in families where one sibling has autism. We introduce the Sibling Embedded Systems Framework which aims to contextualise siblings’ experience and characterise the multiple and interacting factors influencing family and, in particular, sibling outcomes.

Recent Findings
Findings from studies that have reported outcomes for siblings of children with autism are equivocal, ranging from negative impact, no difference, to positive experience. This is likely due to the complex nature of understanding the sibling experience. We focus on particular elements of the framework and review recent novel literature to help guide future directions for research and practice including the influence of culture, methodological considerations, and wider participatory methods.

The Siblings Embedded System Framework can be used to understand interactive factors that affect sibling adjustment and to develop clinically, educationally and empirically based work that aims to enhance and support sibling adjustment, relationships, and well-being in families of children with autism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Developmental Disorders Reports
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • autism
  • sibling
  • well-being
  • family systems
  • sibling relationships
  • framework


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